I don’t like to generalize, but from the writers I’ve met and read about, I think it’s safe to say that one thing we have in common is a love of knowledge. We listen in to conversations everywhere we go, to the point where some of us are just shy of stalkers, in order to learn about people. We devour books, movies, and any other kind of media, including decade old magazines in doctors’ offices, in order to learn about the world. And most of us, whether we write nonfiction, historical fiction, or ‘crazy goblin stories’ (as my 89-year-old grandmother calls the urban fantasy I write), spend oodles of hours researching, which, of course, equates to Google searches and Wikipedia. (If you tell my students I said that, I’ll deny it until I’m blue in the face!)
Some of what I research is perfectly mundane: baby names (see my N post), Massachusetts mill towns, latin words, Irish history. None of these would concern my employers or the parents of the young minds I mold. Other search terms, though, might cause a little concern—vampire lore and major arteries in the body not being the worst of it.
It probably will surprise no one that the daughter of two teachers from the liberal state of Massachusetts has never fired, owned, or even held a gun. But I write about them. In order to write about unfamiliar topics you need to become familiar with them. So last summer I sat in bed, at my parents’ house no less, watching YouTube videos all about magazines, safeties, and firing techniques. Then, of course, I moved onto ammunition, looking for the type of bullets that would cause the most internal damage. It was an easy progression from there to knives and even swords (for ceremonies; my vamps are old, remember?). At some point my family heard odd noises emanating from the room and came to check on me. I assured them I was still their pacifistic, democratic daughter and decided to call it quits for the night.
Overall, I learned a little about weapons, and a lot about the danger of search terms on YouTube. *shudder* I’ve no doubt been flagged by multiple government watch lists and will be forever receiving spam from the NRA asking if I’m looking to join. But, hey, it’s all worth it for the sake of art, right?
I hope actual weapons will never be the tools of my trade, but knowledge, which is necessary to write with accuracy and believability, is and always will be. So, although, it may take me on some strange journeys, I’ll keep soaking in whatever the world has to teach me, whether it be through travel, experiences, books, or good ole’ YouTube and Wikipedia. Hopefully, the FBI will understand.
What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever researched online?